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At the Harvey School, Baseball is a Family Affair for the Ortega's

A Twin Bill

By Rich MonettiPublished 7 months ago Updated 7 months ago 3 min read

Growing up, Kira Ortega got as many backyard pitches from her father as her twin brother Kirk. They also played baseball on the same teams until the sister opted for softball at age 11. The twins continued their divergence on the diamond at the Harvey School, but when a lack of interest had the school disband the softball team, Kira was left outside the lines. So the senior, three sport athlete did what she has always done. She stepped up to the plate.

Joining the baseball team, she asserted, “It was my idea.”

Undeniably, the change up she was throwing caught the school off balance. “Yes, there was a lot of discussion,” the New Rochelle resident revealed.

Among the discourse, her dad obviously lent his voice. “He fought really hard for it,” Kira said.

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A former minor leaguer in the Cubs system, the senior Kirk wasn’t the most important voice in Kira’s corner. In the off seasons, she’s long trained with Harvey’s baseball manager. “Coach Luis (Lopez) knows how I play,” assured KIra, who was also part of the HVAL girls basketball championship team this winter.

So making the case too, the coach had no doubts. “I knew she was going to be fine,” said the former Toronto Blue Jay. “She’s a competitor.”

The school would eventually give the green light, and the ballplayer just followed suit in tryouts. “I knew I was going to do well, because my mindset is always to outdo everyone,” Kira asserted.

As a result, the completion of tryouts forced the manager to alter his annual message. “I usually say baseball is a brotherhood,” Lopez recalled. “Now you have a sister that’s part of the family. So you take care of her like any other of your teammates.”

He did so by letting Kira know what the biggest adjustment would be. Not velocity, the mentor told her, it will be picking up the breaking ball.

Less prevalent in softball, she quickly concurred. “Seeing curveballs is one of the hardest things,” she admitted, and early spring training meant, “K after K,” Kira added.

She eventually got a track on the slow stuff, but pitchers initially assumed that fastballs would do her in. Proving she could make contact, the up-the-middle hitter finds that pitchers groove curveballs on the first pitch instead of fastballs.

The .200 average to date is a bit misleading, though. Kira has one of highest on base percentages on the team, according to Lopez.

Even so, Dad thinks there wasn’t enough time to break the learning curve. “If she had another 10, 15 games, I think she would catch up,” said Kirk Ortega Sr. “She could see the curveball now,”

However, the lag hasn’t meant big moments were absent at the plate. “She been on base, and my son has knocked her in for game winning hits,” beamed Dad.

Of course, Kira plays both ways, and again, the speed of the game is not the factor it would seem. Used to hot corner in softball, second base is less reflexive. “The ball doesn’t come to me as quick. So that was an adjustment,” revealed Kira.

Size and speed, on the other hand, doesn’t faze the second baseman when the runner tries to break up two. “She stays in there, and they’re like, ‘wow, she’s tough,’” boasted Lopez.

At the same, she can still be pretty easy to miss. That is until proximity comes into play at second. “Sometimes there’s just a little double look to make sure I’m actually a female,” she joked.

Interestingly, her brother has to remind his sister that being a girl should not be the focus. “Sometimes she feels like she needs to do more, and I tell her, ‘just be yourself, because that’s when you’re the best,’” explained Kirk, who was also an HVAL Basketball champ this past season.

That said, the Harvey catcher cherishes the throw to second that cuts down the stolen base, and he’s not alone in the sentiment. Dad swells with pride with the synergy, and Lopez is almost beside himself. “Every time Kirk throws down with his sister at second,” Lopez said. “She tags him out, and I just shake my head and smile.”

But college coming next year, she has her eyes on playing D1 softball and knows that playing with the boys has given her a leg up Either way, the path Kira has blazed aims for equal footing. “You have the same right to play as boys,” she concluded. “If you put in the hard work, if you believe your passion is on the field, there’s nothing that should stop you.”


About the Creator

Rich Monetti

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  • Test7 months ago

    Excellent writing 👌👍

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